Greece backs EU ambitions of North Macedonia and Albania | News | DW | 14.11.2019

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Greece backs EU ambitions of North Macedonia and Albania

French President Emmanuel Macron has been skeptical over the two nations' hopes to join the bloc. Icy relations between North Macedonia and Greece have thawed since the former agreed to add 'North' to its name.

Greece offered words of encouragement to North Macedonia and Albania on Thursday as the two countries' efforts to open accession talks with the European Union continue to be frustrated.

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said that "despite reservations'' the EU is "keeping its doors open.''

Mitsotakis said Greece wants both its neighbors in the EU and said their efforts will come to fruition "at some point.''

Still hoping for a U-turn

Last month French President Emmanuel Macron led a small group of EU leaders who blocked accession talks.

"We are disappointed," North Macedonia's Prime Minister Zoran Zaev said after meeting Mitsotakis on the sidelines of an economic forum in Thessaloniki in northern Greece.

Zaev said he had received "huge encouragement" from his Greek counterpart adding that "there is no alternative for us," referring to North Macedonia's EU aspirations.

Watch video 05:39

President of North Macedonia discusses EU membership chances with DW

Both North Macedonia and Albania are  EU candidate countries. However, even when accession talks begin, it can still take several years before officially joining the bloc. Negotiations with the EU's most recently installed member state, Croatia, lasted eight years.

jsi/rt (AP, Reuters)

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